Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

A new exhibition, Unseen Icons, captures the intimate and unexpected with some of the most recognised people in the world

Artist, director and photographer for near three decades, Phil Griffin has captured a side to the world’s most talented and gifted that few others have seen.

His subjects read like a Hall Of Fame of the good and the great: Diana Ross, Amy Winehouse, Sir Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Brian Ferry, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Cambridge, just to name a few.

‘To me, a good photograph is never taken - but given..."

Griffin is exhibiting a selection of these images for the first time at the Brownsword Hepworth Gallery where he is giving the public the opportunity to glimpse these private expressions of some of the most well known people on the planet.

We asked Griffin to share the stories behind six of his favourite shots…

Sir Paul McCartney

Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

“Sir Paul McCartney has the unique ability to look you in the eye, and gently demand that you give as much to the project as he does. Simply put, Paul always ups your game.

“It is not coolness, or genius, or even legend that defines this very unique man, it is his determination to remain curious, to keep ‘discovering’ what’s on the next horizon, and at the same to encourage everyone that’s along for the ride to do the same.

“Whenever we speak, or when I ever I hear him speak, I am reminded of his biggest lesson to me as an artist. Time and remaining your own enquiring explorer through its passing days, is how one retains dignity and a sense of self.”

"Simply put, Paul always ups your game"

Amy Winehouse

Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

“Amy Winehouse changed everything for me. There was a time before her and then there was my time with her.  

“It was a new, volatile, landscape of potential.  

“Amy always encouraged me to be fearless with our work, to be honest with my ideas, and yet allowed me to be firm with all that I asked of her, whether that was in making a portrait, shooting film or preparing a performance with Prince at the 02.

“She called me “her Phil….” And I was. I surrended the day we met outside Jazz After Dark in London 2006.

“Amy was young, fiery spirit in a petite North London body but she understood humility and completely embraced the idea of authenticity – no matter the cost. Like the lioness she was, she trusted me to make our shared space a safe place to speak truth. I miss her everyday.”

Prince William with Taylor Swift

Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

“His Royal Highness The Duke Of Cambridge is a remarkable & generous man who understands compassion and empathy not as virtues but as simple human duties.  Whilst status and position have indeed offered him unique opportunities, what is remarkable to me, is that he uses that platform for the betterment of us all.   To be able to capture The Duke Of Cambridge in both humour and intensity as he raised money for ‘Centrepoint’ was unforgettable.

“In fact, the space in real time between these two very different portraits was a just matter of minutes; the Prince was sitting with Taylor Swift, keeping her happy and chatting about the upcoming performances in the show.  I was there as a guest of Jon Bon Jovi and just happened to have my camera, so he asked me to do some pictures with him and the Prince. The mood was light and warm and the whole room was alive with the irrepressible energy of Tinie Tempah. Jon was waiting in the wings and in between HRH the Duke of Cambridge made a speech.

“The change from charismatic host, keeping everyone relaxed and happy to the focused and determined young Prince of duty you witness in the later image as he stepped up on stage to talk to a much older crowd full of peers, friends and the worlds press is incredible and humbling.”

Jamal Edwards

Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

“Jamal Edwards, shot here at The Princes Trust Chatham Centre in 2013 is at all times both a disrupter and an instigator of calm.

“That paradox of being able to mobilize his generation and yet retain a very peaceful countenance makes him a new breed of leader to be both respected and encouraged.

“Jamal represents all that is possible and hopeful in the young icons of the future.

“He is aware, often inscrutable, but always kind and unerringly open to the idea that improvement, social responsibility, and self-belief are fundamental to the success of his generation.”

"Jamal is a new breed of leader to be both respected and encouraged"

Annie Lennox

Explore these unseen photos of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince William and more by Phil Griffin

“Annie Lennox is like running water – impossible to capture and keep because, no matter what you do, she is always ahead of you.

“Sometimes a sparrow and other times a proud eagle, Annie has regardless of her own fragility, always demonstrated a wingspan designed to cover all those whose need she witnesses. I find her quiet power the definition of the Divine Feminine, a power in which we see all the pure joy and raw conflict involved in just being human.

“Annie defies rules, she can create chaos and she does create her own very special landscape which shows us all how we should live. In the end, is that not a great shining example of Mother Nature in human form?”

You can see the rest of the exhibition at the Brownsword Hepworth Gallery until 23rd November. 

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